When all else fails, when our compass is broken, there is one thing some of us have come to rely on: music really can give us a sense of something like home. With It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track, legendary music critic Ian Penman reaches for a vanished moment in musical history when cultures collided and a certain kind of cross-generational and ‘cross-colour’ awareness was born. His cast of characters includes the Mods, James Brown, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, John Fahey, Steely Dan and Prince – black artists who were innovators, and white musicians who copied them for the mainstream. In ‘prose that glides and shimmies and pivots on risky metaphors, low puns and highbrow reference points’ (Brian Dillon, frieze), Ian Penman’s first book in twenty years is cause for celebration.
‘It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track summons the lives and times of several extravagantly damaged musical geniuses and near-geniuses in (mainly) the brutal context of mid-century America – its racial atrocities, its venality, its murderous conformities. Ian Penman writes an exact, evocative prose as surprising as improvised jazz in its fluid progress from music criticism to social commentary to biography and back. He’s found a way to be erudite without pedantry, entertaining without pandering. His ear for mesmerizing nuance is unmatched by any music critic alive.’ — Gary Indiana, author of Three Month Fever